Help me avoid nausea while working out!
July 9, 2004 10:43 AM   Subscribe

How do I avoid nausea during my workout? (more inside)

A few months ago I switched to high intensity interval training for the aerobic part of my routine. During the past month, I’ve felt lots of nausea during my final two minute sprint. I’m pushing as hard as I can without decorating my workout room, and it’s getting to the point where the nausea is holding me back. In the past I’ve trained through nausea by gradually ramping up my effort, but it’s not working this time. What to do?

Some (possibly) relevant details:
  1. I warm up and stretch;
  2. I work out first thing in the morning, so my stomach is empty except for a bit of water; and
  3. I’d like to stick with high intensity interval training since the results are really good.
Thanks for your suggestions.
posted by amery to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total)
"...the nausea is holding me back."
Listen to your body. It's telling you to back off. It's literally saying: "High intensity interval training makes me sick!"
posted by Faze at 10:58 AM on July 9, 2004

If working out on an empty stomach isn't working, have something to eat. I get pretty queasy when I do heavy squats or deadlifts on an empty stomach, but everything is just peachy if I have a little something beforehand (as peachy as it can be, anyway). Sprinting is pretty anaerobic, if you're working hard, so try having some sugar before your workout. A piece of fruit, maybe. Or your body might respond better to a little fat and protein; some yogurt would be good, if you can tolerate it. Working hard on an empty stomach, in my experience, is generally not a good idea.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:59 AM on July 9, 2004

and it’s getting to the point where the nausea is holding me back.

it might be worth considering if you should heed the signals your body is sending. If you worked out so much that you were suffering severe pain, would you say "the pain is holding me back", or would you just say, maybe I should not push myself quite that hard? (Incidentally, that's what steroids do - allow you not to feel the pain quite so much - so that it can't "hold you back" - you still have to do the work, but you're less affected by negative side effects).

Basically I think you just have to train yourself onward and upward - now you might start getting sick at x point; the more fit you become etc, the further you'll be able to go. You may have hit a bit of a plateau, but that doesn't mean you'll never improve again. How long is the overall routine? Do you have a goal in mind that you're disappointed is not coming within reach yet?
posted by mdn at 10:59 AM on July 9, 2004

oh yeah, I was going to say what uncleozzy said, also - I can't work out first thing in the morning without feeling a bit sick. Eat, digest, then get to it.
posted by mdn at 11:01 AM on July 9, 2004

Best answer: You should really eat a banana.
posted by the fire you left me at 11:02 AM on July 9, 2004

Is it possible that you're just getting dehydrated towards the end of your workout?
posted by ph00dz at 11:08 AM on July 9, 2004

Puke and get back on the treadmill. Works every time for me.

Would I say "the pain is holding me back?" Hell yes. But work through the pain, get stronger, and you won't feel it next time. Keep pounding through the naseau, and your stomach/lungs/metabolism will get stronger and eventually it will go away. If the nausea is keeping you from training, you must eliminate it, and the fastest way to do that is, well, eliminating.
posted by ChasFile at 11:35 AM on July 9, 2004

Eat! Your body needs energy.

There is an interesting article in this months issue of hers about olympic athletes and food.Studies show that people who eat every few hours weigh less than those who eat two/three big meals a day.

Here is a link to one of thier online articles about food and fitness:
posted by jopreacher at 11:36 AM on July 9, 2004

But work through the pain, get stronger, and you won't feel it next time.

This kind of thinking is why my wife will have knee trouble for the rest of her life.

Needless to say, I'm with the "listen to what your body is telling you" crowd.
posted by ook at 12:25 PM on July 9, 2004

Are you breathing properly? I have a tendency to hold my breath during high intensity workouts, and this can lead to dizzyness and nausea.
posted by sauril at 2:02 PM on July 9, 2004

The problem is where to draw the line. During intense track workouts, I feel like I'm going to die halfway through the workout but nonetheless, I push thrugh the pain and suffering and feel like I get a better workout in the end. Saying "listen to your body" is way too easy. If every long-distance runner did that, we'de have no long-distance runners. Knee/joint/muscle problems are an all together different story than over nausia/breathing problems/fill in the blank. The former usually go in degrees and only the person can tell unless they see a doctor. I had three or four "serious" injuries in high school, and only one of them stayed with me. However, none of the nausia/asmtha/etc from "Jesus saves runs" affects me today and only made me more fit in the end. Personally, I am more worried about acute pain of joints (most muscles will heal in time easily enough) that don't go away over time as that results in cronic pain.
Usually, what amery described is a the result of good, intense training and would follow ChasFile's advice.
posted by jmd82 at 2:11 PM on July 9, 2004

Would I say "the pain is holding me back?" Hell yes.

Yah, I know there are athletes who think like this; I was asking the question to highlight the fact that saying "the nausea is holding me back" is no different from a similar claim about pain (so literally asking "would you say this?"). You have the right to train as hard as you want, and hard core athletes often push themselves to unhealthy limits, for a very specific purpose. It isn't clear from the way this question is framed whether the poster is prepping for olympic tryouts or just trying lose 15 pounds. The degree to which one pushes oneself is heavily dependent on how important the results are to you, and what possible down sides you're willing to tolerate to reach your goals. That's why I asked for more details on the goals...
posted by mdn at 2:17 PM on July 9, 2004

Do you have a heart rate monitor? Buy or borrow one then check your levels when you are hitting high intensity. It may be that you are going too fast too furious and need to back off a wee bit. High intensity training does get results (I do that in spin class) but it really is safer to know just how high the intensity is. In our spin classes they HEAVILY push heart monitors; I have found mine to be very useful in meeting my fitness goals.

But I imagine a little bit on your stomach might fix the problem. I recommend a bit of peanut butter on toast; that is what I have before I head to the fitness center.
posted by konolia at 4:10 PM on July 9, 2004

"the nausea is holding me back" is no different from a similar claim about pain

Disagree. Pain could mean injury; nausea probably doesn't speak to long-term problems.

I've never had this problem, but had a teammate in high school track who used to actually vomit pretty regularly after sprinting. I think it's not uncommon with sprinters. Off the top of my head, I'd say you might want to try breathing differently, whether you use a different rythm, go through your nose or mouth, etc. Otherwise, you might want to look at the site and poke around.
posted by callmejay at 7:53 AM on July 10, 2004

Back off immediately.

Nausea after extreme exertion is not a sign to ignore as it can signify that your heart cannot keep up with your bodies demands. Either you are pushing too hard or there may be a heart problem.

It could be due to other causes like diet, overtraining but you really should get your heart checked out.

As for puking past the naseua..that is also a very bad idea. Your pipes are really meant to be a one way street and don't handle repeated exposure to stomach acid well. Scarring and esophageal cancers are probably not what you are looking for as a workout outcome.
posted by srboisvert at 11:43 AM on July 10, 2004

Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that vomitting was okay.
posted by callmejay at 12:27 PM on July 10, 2004

One thing that's worth bearing in mind when wondering if you are working out "too hard" is that the lungs and heart are a system and work very closely together. Even if you get a heart-rate monitor and see how high your heart-rate is, it's not that meaningful unless you know your own body well. Basically, if you are gasping like you've just been half-drowned, you are stressing your heart terribly. If you are nauseous but are not feeling like this, it could be some other mechanism doing it, related to body temperature or food or balance, or even a kind of mental/emotional intolerance.

Just something to think about.
posted by suleikacasilda at 2:29 PM on July 11, 2004

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